Christ’s sacrifice helps us make our own

| Deacon Dan Gehler | November 4, 2015 | 0 Comments

So many times when we hear the readings on Sunday we think, “Oh, it’s this one again,” and we might tune out because we think we know what it’s all about. The readings for Nov. 8 can fall into that category.

The first reading from Kings is about the widow who has enough wheat and oil for only one more meal, then she and her son will die, but she shares what she has with Elijah. The Gospel from Mark is the story of the widow who puts her last two copper coins in the temple treasury. We know these stories and the outcomes, but at the same time we have probably lost the shock of the twist that is in these stories.

In both of these readings, we come across people who were downtrodden for many reasons. These women were poor, widowed and without property, making them useless in the eyes of society of that time. Yet, they are examples of service. There is absolutely nothing that stops these women from doing for others despite everything that’s against them. What could motivate this kind of action?

In the nomadic cultures of the Middle East — well, actually in most cultures except our modern one ­— hospitality wasn’t an option. To deny food to someone who came by, not to share no matter how little there was, was equivalent to murder, since without food, one would die. But there’s more. In both of these cases, the ability to give is based on the sure knowledge that nothing we possess is ever completely our own. All our goods are from God. Whether it is a little or a lot, it is on loan, and should someone or some cause come our way, we give. That is what these women teach us — that all we have comes from the father.

As followers of Jesus, we have an additional reason to give, and just in case we forgot, there it is in Hebrews. In the reading, we have an image of Christ who is the ongoing sacrifice for all of our shortcomings and weaknesses. The image in the book of Hebrews is that there is this God who is constantly in the disposition of working for us. It doesn’t mean that he continues to die over and over again and to suffer over and over again. Somehow, that action in and of itself was enough to reveal the disposition of God, who is really willing to do anything for us. It creates a way of imagining a God who is constantly pacing back and forth in his palatial place in heaven worried about whether we have enough, and making sure we do.

As Christ made himself the one perfect sacrifice, once and for all, so let us make ourselves like him in offering our lives for the good of the many.

Deacon Gehler is in formation for the priesthood at the St. Paul Seminary for the Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa. His teaching parish is Sts. Peter and Paul in Loretto. His home parish is St. Joseph in Des Moines. 


Sunday, Nov. 8
Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time


  • 1 Kings 17:10-16
  • Hebrews 9:24-28
  • Mark 12:38-44

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Category: Sunday Scriptures